Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The big problem with Thor 2 was that it wasn’t a self-contained story that happened to play into a larger whole or set things up for future movies. It was all setting things up for future movies, leaving the dark elf a featureless villain and his grand scheme a complete waste. I know some people didn’t like Iron Man 2, saying it was looking ahead to The Avengers instead of doing its own thing, but I liked it; Thor 2 was just a disappointment.

Anyway, now we have Captain America 2. Same potential issue here, the storyline ties into SHIELD’s place in the Marvel cinematic/TV universe, while at the same time they’ve introduced a couple new characters, teased a couple more, and Captain America is given his own arc dealing with being a man out of time and his country no longer being the unequivocal good he knew.

But Winter Soldier does a lot better than Thor 2, turning out to be an all-around solid film regardless of how it plays into a larger continuity. The Falcon’s introduction is presented as someone who relates to Cap’s problems, being a war veteran himself, rather than another SHIELD agent whose backstory is to be filled in later (how much characterization has Hawkeye been given?). The issue of SHIELD’s priorities isn’t related to the TV show (from my perspective as a non-watcher), but rather a problem that comes up and is resolved within this one story.

The only part I felt was really lacking was Cap’s personal storyline, about not understanding the 21st century and being alone in many ways. The angle of the Winter Soldier ties into this story, but the reveal not only of the identity but the character’s existence is held off too long. The SHIELD story takes center stage right out of the gate, and the Winter Soldier feels like an accessory rather than a driving part of it. Hence his personal relation to Captain America, plus his backstory, is treated like an afterthought and doesn’t carry the impact it should.

This raises the question I’ve been wondering about since Thor 2: does the idea of the Marvel cinematic/TV universe hinder the individual movies by requiring them to be part of a larger saga? Iron Man 2 managed (in my eyes) to get by as its own thing even while serving up events and characters for The Avengers, and Winter Soldier does well enough. But given that this should have been a personal story for Cap, rather than the next stage in a bigger storyline, the movie is not all that it could be.

But saying “It’s not as good as it could have been” is hardly a criticism. Winter Soldier is a very good action movie, especially with a freeway shootout in the middle of the movie. The finale, not so much; standard ‘Race against the countdown to stop the bad guys from initiating their plan, hold off until the last second to win’ explosion-fest. And when the stinger revealed some new characters for future movies I was more “Eh, OK” than actually blown away.

It’s one of the better Marvel movies, but in a way that feels held back. The best solution probably would have been to divide the two stories, SHIELD’s internal compromise as one movie and Captain America dealing with the Winter Soldier in another.

Noah

I’m only marginally aware of how the lead-in to the release of Noah was dominated by fundamentalists complaining about how the movie was not Biblically accurate. Based on the trailers I was expecting it would stick to the overall story and the ‘non-Biblical’ stuff would be apocryphal things about giant angels walking the Earth or necessary additions to answer questions the Bible doesn’t (how did Noah gather the animals, what made Noah so righteous compared to everyone else?).

And that stuff is there (the animals just came to the ark as if guided, Noah was the last of the line of Seth, whereas everyone else was descended from Cain), but the real deviation starts to come as the ark is nearing completion and the rains begin. In the Biblical account Noah’s three sons already have wives before the flooding, whereas the movie’s idea that Noah’s family were the last righteous people raises the question of where the wives are supposed to come from (and where Noah’s wife comes from, if she’s not of the line of Seth…). And as act three approaches and we see how clearly humanity is divided into ‘Noah and his family’ versus ‘everyone else,’ we realize an answer isn’t coming. The eldest, Shem, gets a wife because Noah’s clan rescued her as a girl in act one, but that leaves two other sons, one of whom has reached adolescence, and no one available.

And then things really go off the rails when, after the flood has started and the ark is sailing, Noah reveals that his interpretation of his visions (God, or ‘the Creator’ as he’s called, never speaks to him directly, nor sends angels as messengers) is that humanity isn’t meant to survive. Once the waters recede and the animals begin repopulating the world, Noah and his family will live out their days, with his youngest son being the last human. This becomes problematic when Shem’s wife becomes pregnant and Noah vows to kill the child if it’s a girl.

Is there anything like that in the Bible? Not at all. Does it line up with the theme of the Bible story about God giving humanity a second chance (or, if you want to be uncharitable/honest, destroying many while only saving a few)? Not at all. God isn’t a character in this movie so much as a force; Noah spends the entire story at most being guided to action and when it comes time for him to make a moral decision he has to work it out himself, questioning if his idea of obedience is right or even possible for him to bear.

The first two acts come across as a thinly-veiled environmental message; man has raped the planet, hastening the demise of all involved, but people are too damn selfish and short-sighted to do anything but scavenge and fight amongst themselves for whatever they can get right now. But then Noah lays down his ‘We’re the end of humanity’ prophecy and now it becomes a question of whether one man, the man to whom the survival of the entire animal kingdom has been entrusted, is going to destroy the last of mankind.

Instead of a polemic about humanity caring for the environment, we’re given a musing on morality, religious devotion, and the question of whether mankind should even be saved or not. Without going into detail, the climax of the movie features a fight between two people and I was curious watching it if the movie wanted either of them to win.

I’m sure there will be essays and articles about the climax and finale, about how the story turns away from a straightforward account of one man’s unquestioning devotion to instead deal with how serving a supernatural power would be difficult for a human. Fundamentalists will probably complain about the ending because it makes Noah human, and progressives will probably like it for the same reason. It’s not religious in the “This is how to behave” way but in the “This is how you should be” way.

As an atheist I found the movie ballsy and bold, assured in what it wants to be and willing to be it. I have no idea about Aronofsky’s religion or spiritual views, but he has delivered one of the few truly satisfying films about religion and a person’s attempts to live by their faith.

I found this looking through a bunch of pictures I had saved from online. Anyone know what it’s from?

I found this looking through a bunch of pictures I had saved from online. Anyone know what it’s from?

Tags: comics disco

occupyrichierich:

"YO DAD I’M DOING 250 IN A ROCKET CAR CHASING A RADIOACTIVE SATAN MAN AND DODGING FLAMING OIL DRUMS"
"son that is wicked sick, wait up and i’ll be there soon with some tanks"

Do you think the Riches arranged all of this (Devil getting his powers, the tanks, the flaming oil barrels) because they’re so bored with all their opulence and they need to go to such lengths to feel anything?

occupyrichierich:

"YO DAD I’M DOING 250 IN A ROCKET CAR CHASING A RADIOACTIVE SATAN MAN AND DODGING FLAMING OIL DRUMS"

"son that is wicked sick, wait up and i’ll be there soon with some tanks"

Do you think the Riches arranged all of this (Devil getting his powers, the tanks, the flaming oil barrels) because they’re so bored with all their opulence and they need to go to such lengths to feel anything?

bakeroni asked: My friend is insisting that Tim Burton is re-making Mary Poppins. True or no? I'm thinking not just because nothing has been released..but she's very sure! o_O

disneytrivia:

image

So, apparently someone made a poster and it’s been making it’s way around the internet since… about yesterday.

image

I see 3 problems with this:

1) Disney hasn’t said ANYTHING about it. I think something as big as this would have warranted a press release or two. Think about how long we’ve been hearing news about Maleficent. And Disney doesn’t usually release posters for movies 2 years away. Or that haven’t even gone into production yet. A poster being the first piece of news for a remake of a MAJOR Disney favorite seems a little off.

2) With the release of Saving Mr. Banks, a reboot of Mary Poppins seems ill-timed. Especially by someone like Tim Burton, who’s movies are generally dark and HEAVILY stylized, which is not at all fitting with the tone of the original. 

3) People have been talking about Burton remaking Mary Poppins for YEARS. There was an article on an Italian website in 2011 Stating that Burton and Disney had teamed up to remake the classic, but, as it was posted on April 1st, it was revealed the next day to have been an April Fools joke.

But even if we ignore all of that, the thing that sends my skepticism skyrocketing is the wording at the bottom; “In Theaters, Disney Digital, and IMAX 3D November 2016”. A “Disney Digital” copy of a movie is a disk that comes with the DVD or BluRay that you purchase, and then you load the disk into your computer and it stores a digital copy of the movie for you to watch on your computer, phone, or tablet. So why would a movie poster say that a movie is coming to “Theaters, Disney Digital, and IMAX 3D”?

Until Disney says something, which I HIGHLY doubt they will, I don’t believe it. It seems like that “Walt, starring Ryan Gossling directed by Ron Howard" poster by French graphic artist Pascal Witaszek that got everyone so excited a few years ago. I think it’s a fan made poster that was released onto the internet, and everyone seeing it is assuming that it’s real.

I honestly cannot understand how someone can look at that and think it’s real. It’s clearly a joke, someone thinking ‘What if you took Tim Burton’s signature goth-pop aesthetic and applied it to something generally seen as light and cheery?’ You don’t even need to go into the ‘Why haven’t we heard about this before?’ questioning.

It’s the kind of thing that would turn up in a Cracked photoplasty contest, and I would not be the least bit surprised if it came from one. I’m actually going to check Cracked right now and see if one of their recent contests was about gritty reboots.

After a cursory check I didn’t see it, but this is exactly the kind of cliched ‘Take something cheery, make it dark = comedy’ thinking you’ve probably seen a million times elsewhere.

Book 12: The Moose That Roared

The Moose That Roared by Keith Scott (B+)

If Radley Balko had trouble staying objective when discussing his subject matter, Keith Scott doesn’t even try. To be fair, he openly admits this in the prologue of the history/informal biography of Jay Ward, Bill Scott (no relation) and their animated works (Rocky and Bullwinkle, Crusader Rabbit, George of the Jungle, etc.). Scott is an ascended fanboy, drawn to voice acting because of Rocky and Bullwinkle and going on to work for the franchise and meeting some of the people involved in the series. This book is very clearly a work of love more than a historical survey.

This eagerness of Scott’s is not too overplayed and fawning, but the book’s detriment is instead an over-attention to minutia regarding the origin and development of the different series Ward and company created, such as voice-over recording dates and the various advertising and syndication deals the Ward Studios made.

That last bit, the financial details, is especially pointless since Ward, the brain and spirit of the studio, did not let the money side of the business guide his approach to his work. Even though he was an intelligent business man Ward, like Mack Sennett, was driven by an enthusiasm for his work more than any desire to get rich or build a media empire. This lack of aggression in his business dealings did put the studio in a precarious financial position more than once, but that’s not really the heart of the story, is it? The heart is Ward’s larger-than-life public persona and comedic mindset, translated into the unique cartoons that built him his legacy.

On that front the book is invaluable if, as I said, detail-oriented. I would have liked a more critical analysis of the shows themselves, a greater (and more objective) look at the shows’ impact on culture. And Scott takes it for granted the reader is familiar with the shows being discussed, which is sort of fair with Rocky and Bullwinkle (it’s the reason why I wanted the book, at least), but things like Fractured Flickers and Hoppity Hooper aren’t as relevant today.

It’s difficult to say this is a book that would appeal much to non-Ward fans or non-animation buffs. Large parts of it, such as those focusing on Ward’s life or Rocky and Bullwinkle, are accessible, and Scott does a great job highlighting the voice actors who played such an indispensable role in making Ward’s shows unique and timeless. But even coming in as a fan I struggled with the tedium of almost week-by-week updates of the management of an animation studio in Mexico contracted to do work on Rocky and Bullwinkle. The overarching story there is that the animators and producers had no idea what they were doing and as the premiere date for the show came and got pushed back the issue of the show’s animation quality (always something you have to give a pass on) was in question.

It’s very easy to sum up (as I just did), but Scott gets lost in talking about the various problems the studio (a first-time venture from a Mexican businessman with no experience in the animation industry) faced and different American animators who went down to help the studio get on its feet and meet deadlines. There comes a point where the interesting details get outweighed by the inconsequential ones.

Despite this I enjoyed the book and I’m glad for having read it.

Is Beethoven’s 9th symphony the greatest artistic work of human culture? It seems daunting to even ask if anything is, but whatever criteria we establish to answer what is the greatest artistic achievement will, by default at least, lead to something being chosen.

But what would that criteria be? How do we compare the greatest works of music to the greatest works of film?

occupyrichierich:

ah the old “pretend to be one of their pagan savage gods” trick, works every time

mr. rich will PERSONALLY escort you BACK to that PRINCESS

this fucking comic

I don’t have enough ‘Fuck you’s to go around, so some of you are going to have to share.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

I didn’t see the Lone Ranger movie from last year, I don’t know for a fact that it’s as horrible as everyone says, and I definitely don’t know how it compares to the original series. But I do have this overpowering feeling that the movie was made primarily because focus testing showed people were at least tangentially aware of the Lone Ranger, Tonto, and the phrase ‘Hi ho, Silver!’ Not that anyone cared about the franchise, just that people knew of it, making potential advertising easier.

That feeling was at the back of my mind in the lead-up to the release of Mr. Peabody and Sherman. That some producer decided there was enough familiarity with the characters to green-light a movie with them. Not that the movie would automatically be bad (remember Frozen’s underwhelming trailer? And maybe the writers and director involved are fans of the original series and they would do justice to the old cartoons) but it’s not a ringing endorsement that a movie is being made because there was the barest Q-rating necessary.

So I went into the theater today nervous that I was wasting my time, that this would be exactly like the trailer made it out to be (a joke about Tut rhyming with butt?), and… yeah. More or less, it was a waste.

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Joel vs. Mike: The Eternal Question Answered

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been one of my favorite shows for, like, two decades at this point. I didn’t fully get into it when it was on Comedy Central and building its base because it was on Fridays at 8 and at 9 X-Files came on, causing a conflict of interest for me. I always enjoyed watching the show, but sitting through a full two hours was a tall order; particularly since I was younger and didn’t get as many references as I do now.

Once the show moved to the Sci-Fi channel and was playing on Saturday mornings it was much easier for me to watch entire episodes; good timing, because the Sci-Fi era was when actual continuity came into the show (for one season). The rise of eBay and the DVD market at the turn of the century gave me the chance to fill in the gaps, and now YouTube has almost every episode on it and I have a very solid familiarity with the show as a whole.

So my personal fandom of the series arrived a bit later than my initial attraction to the show, and as such I was never part of any online community devoted to it, never made the series a part of my identity or how I presented myself to others (think of how people on Tumblr put a list of franchises in their ‘About me’ bios). I never talked about my favorite episodes or got drawn into the all-important Mike vs. Joel debate. But for the past couple weeks I’ve been watching a ton of episodes on YouTube while writing and some general impressions I’ve had of the show have been cemented into actual opinion, and now this is one of those things I’ve been thinking about a lot and want to get off my chest.

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